Evaluation in Spanish-speaking mother–child narratives: The social and sense-making function of internal-state references

Camila Fernández, Gigliana Melzi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Young children’s sociocognitive skills, such as their understanding of others’ feelings and their ability to explain human action in terms of beliefs, emotions, and intentions, has been associatedwith naturally occurring talk about internal states in everyday family interactions. The frequency with which children engage in conversations about internal states is related to various aspects of sociocognitive development, including emotion recognition, affective perspective-taking, and false-belief understanding. Various individual and contextual factors influence the language used between parents and children during daily family interactions. However, most studies to date have examined the use of internal-state language in English-speaking homes; thus, results might not be generalizable to other cultural groups. The current study addressed this gap in the literature by examining the manner in which Spanish-speaking Peruvian mothers discussed internal states with their preschooler in two narrative contexts: conversations about the personal past and storybook-sharing interactions. The conversations in these two contexts between 32 middle-class mothers and their preschool-aged children (i.e., ages 3 and 5) were analyzed for the frequency and patterns of use of internal-state references. Results show gender and age differences in the use of internal-state references only in the narrative-conversation context. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the theoretical and empirical links between children’s narrative competence and their sociocognitive skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpanish-Language Narration and Literacy
Subtitle of host publicationCulture, Cognition, and Emotion
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9780511815669
ISBN (Print)9780521883757
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Autobiographical memory
  • Evaluation
  • Internal states
  • Latino children
  • Mother-child conversations
  • Narrative
  • Social cognition
  • Spanish
  • Theory-of-mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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